How the GI Bill led to a 44-year career with computers

Peachtree Corners, GA

I graduated from high school in 1953. I attended the University of Texas. This was my first time away from home and I did not handle it very well. I didn't do well academically in high school and that continued my first year in college. My mother, who had become a widow in 1945, had 4 boys to support. She had been paying for most of my first year of college and I could tell it was a strain on her, so I volunteered for the draft and entered the Army in September 1954 so I could get the GI Bill. After my first 8 weeks of basic I was given an opportunity to go to OCS, but turned it down because it would delay my return to college. I was then given the opportunity to attend a 26-week class at the Signal School at Fort Monmouth, N.J. The class was fixed station radio repair school. I attended the class and graduated 2nd in my class. I was then assigned to the Army's radio station WAR outside Washington, D.C. I had to have a top-secret clearance to work there, which I obtained. It turns out that the radios were maintained by civil service employees, so I received on-the-job training to become a radio operator. At the end of my enlistment I was offered a promotion to a specialist, the equivalent of a sergeant, and a job wearing civilian clothes in the American Embassy in France. I declined this because I was anxious to get back to college. When I got out of the Army in September 1956, I was much more mature and I was really determined to do well academically because I wanted to prepare myself for a good job. Having the GI Bill gave me that chance. In September 1954, I attended a local junior college in my hometown, taking freshman classes I had not passed in 1953-1954. After this, I attended the University of Texas for 3 more years. I could not have made it without the GI Bill. I also feel that it was one of my best accomplishments because I paid for my college myself. In 1960 I went to work for Univac as a systems analyst. I got the job because of a math course I took as a senior that had an IBM mainframe computer that we used to solve our math problems. I worked 44 years full time with computers, 32 years with mainframe computer companies and 12 years with the state. I think that if I had not joined the Army and earned the GI Bill, my life would have turned out a lot differently and it would have not have been as satisfying as it was.

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